Monday, September 3, 2018

A hundred years ago! - Dadasaheb Phalke's Shri Krishna Janma form 1918!!

On this happy day I was made even happier by the discovery of this treasure on youtube!!! We live in lucky times! SO presenting Dadasaheb Phalke's presentation on Krishna's birth from 1918!!!!! Exactly a hundred years back!!One of the early pioneering efforts in Indian filmmaking, 'the film' is not complete but only a very small fragment 10% (less than six mins) of its original hour long length... 

And it is a silent film - jumpy-jerky-all over the place to our 'well adjusted to cinema spectacle' eyes... but its a wonder to behold nevertheless.. for me at any rate 
And as a bonus the video is combined with a fragment of another Phalke film - 1927's Bhakta Prahlad!!

Only sticking to Shri Krishna's theme for now -
Witness the harried people beseeching the Gods for help as Lord Vishnu reclined on Sheshnag with Devi Lakshmi and Brahmaji on the lotus emerge from the sea..Lord Vishnu 'shows' the suffering folk his intent.. he will incarnate as Shri Krishna, but transforming into the little child.. (this is a simple and great example of the visual language.. seems obvious but isn't)
Dadasheb Phalke's daughter Mandakini Phalke plays little Krishna in this as well the other epic "Kaliya Mardan" 1919
Then the fragments again 'show' Kamsa's hallucination.. yes.. this 'akashvani' or the warning from the ether is also shown in a brilliant sequence where Kamsa is overwhelmed by multiple Shri Ks of different ages who he tries to fight off in vain by slashing at air with his sword! 
But... before that is on of the great examples of visual effects in films, which stands well against the best being done anywhere in the world at that time ( incl George melies!!) Kamsa hallucinates or sees his head flying off his body in a geyser of blood!! "It is part of film lore that the blood in this trickshot was hand tinted red!" - Light of Asia -Indian silent Film edited by Suresh Chabria#currentlyreading - #serendipity)
I love this end of film title card... apparently the silent film was accompanied by actual singing of bhajans and aartis at the end of screening for the devout to get the full experience of having witnessed Shri Krishna!

Enjoy and salute the great pioneers on whose shoulders we stand -(or try to )

Shri Krishna Janmashtami - an offering

...The baby cried as soon as the shackles were back on and the gates shut once again behind them.. The sleeping soldiers who had snored thru the entire adventure of Krishna being born and smuggled out of prison were roused from their sleep.. they rushed to their king! 
Outside the rain, wind and thunder continued their violent performance anxious and steadily moving to the climax of the events of this long night..
"The poor child!!" she wailed.. "but its a girl, Devaki! the prophecy said the eight would be a boy..."! Even though he had been out in the rain most of this night crossing the Yamuna in spate, twice, to transport the saviour to safety to his friend, Nand's house and bringing back his newborn child as instructed by the Divine voice.
The tyrant wasted no time in getting to the dungeons... this was the moment of truth.. the moment he had been waiting for... the moment for which he had his sister and her husband imprisoned... the birth of the eight son! The son who was foretold to be his doom! His eyes bloodshot with the anxiety of years he looked at the child... a girl?... brushing away Vasudev and Devaki's pleas for mercy, he held the infant by her leg like he had all her seven elder brothers... and raised the wailing child up in the air to dash her to the ground like he had the rest...
but she slipped from his fingers and became light.. before he could blink, she laughed!
She was MahaMaya- the goddess of illusion herself and she teased him "your slayer is alive and well...!!
Kamsa's life was now of a man waiting for his death.. he would fight his fate ofcourse... but his every living moment would be consumed with the vision of the avenging child.. his nightmares were the dreams of deliverance for the people of Mathura...and indeed his own... though he knew it not.
art & retelling (C) Chetan Sharma 2018

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Birthday Dilip Saab!

The 11th of December was the Legendary Thespian's 'happy' birthday!! Just thought of these really old sketches of him done for an animation piece sometime in 2000.. almost 13 years ago! With the sudden realisation of the passage of time, also dawned the realisation of the timelessness of an artist's work... Dilip Kumar was at the forefront of creativity and success in Indian Cinema for many decades of its golden age and has inspired countless actors from Dharamendra to Amitabh Bachchan to Shahrukh et al.. and somewhere down there in that list of the inspired I find a very earnest myself... I have always loved Dilipji, with not a feeling of an actor but strangely as an elder to look upto.. a person from my own family.. that I feel very close to tho I dont know him at all..
Anyway an old sketch from 13 years ago with a lil touch up.. (this was a printout of an image in our files which used a ruff sketch in the original..) Hope you like it and remember that we become who we do on the shoulders of the ones who came before us.. in his case, its the shoulder of a giant!
Dilip Kumar in 2000 and a flashback from Naya of my favorite moments in Hindi cinema

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Work in Progress" Behind the scenes of 'Swami Ayyappan' & 'Return of the Jungle!'

This weekend its a date in Pune- the cultural capital of Maharashtra!
The Animation Society of India (TASI) has organised a session on the 30th to bring two directors to spill/spell out the ingredients of their recipes for making their latest animation projects which are still under-production!
Vaibhav Kumaresh (Vaibhav Studios) will present the WIP of his labour of Love "Return of the Jungle" (40mins, 3D animation) & Yours humbly will present the labours of the last one and half year behind Animagic's 2nd feature length film- a co-production with Toonz Animation India- "Swami Ayyappan" (90mins, 2D )

The presentations will include animatics, developmental sketches, character designs, layouts, Storyboards, as well as finished scenes!!
The intention behind the presentation is to share the inner workings of the movie making process.. to  debunk a few myths but also initiate the audience into the mysteries of animated filmmaking... an art that is only learnt thru persistent doing it.. doing it...and doing it some more! 
We will share our own paths that are different and yet have so much in common as well. . How we have translated our love and passion for animation will be easily understandable with the behind the scenes material.  We hope to transfer some of the joy we feel making animation films and maybe have an exchange of ideas with the audience about the shape of things to come.

 We are very excited!!! Please Gather all your friends for this special afternoon..we promise to make it worth your while!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I discovered the Doctor from his 11th incarnation.. so he is my favourite..His personality, quirks, mannerisms (as played by the amazing Matt Smith ) were just so animated that I quickly became addicted!! (Amy Pond played her part too.. to be fair) But this show was one of the most brilliant TV experiences ever.. for those who havent yet checked it out.. I dont know what to say.. cant describe what you have been missing!
The Doctor completed 50 years yesterday and the special episode "The day of the Doctor" was simulcast in 80 countries and 1400 cinema halls.. won it a place in the Guinness Book of Records!!
Here is a tribute to the Doctor's spirit. Heroic optimism! One of my favorite moments from the 5th season."The Pandorica opens"... the Doctor faces countless alien ships with nothing but his wits!

Friday, May 3, 2013

ANIMAGIC completes 16 years!!

Since my last post for Mahashivaratri 2012, so much has happened it is not going to be possible to recount in a single post. Animagic watchers may have gleaned some of the goings-on from stray posts on the website or the occasional facebook news... but an an amazing lot happened... mostly happy stuff! :) peppered with a few tragedies (life..:( )
So with sincere gratitude to all above and below, here follows something like an annual report- a brief recounting of Animagic's adventures through 2012-13

Buongiorno Italia!
First, Animagic represented Indian animation in a special Cartoons on the Bay (Italy) focus on India.* Yours humbly along  with representatives of 4 other studios, presented various shades of  'Indian emerging'... DQ entertainment was also awarded International Studio of the year in the light of its major presence in European  animation and for its (growing financial contribution to the same via acquisitions etc) All in all a great time was had. TRIPURA was screened, appreciated and led to some great conversations. Impromptu picnics brought together the attending Indian delegates and created/ strengthened friendships..

Pakdam Pakdaai!
Which almost directly leads to the second thing; The acquaintance and consequent friendship with Hari Varma of TOONZ Trivandrum brought 2 new projects into Animagic. One of which was/is 'Pakdam Pakdaai" a chase comedy style cartoon currently on air on Nick at 6.30 pm daily.. We did the pre-production for the show's 7 episodes (each 21 mins episode with 3 cartoons of 7 mins duration) ie we did the turnarounds & expression sheets of all the main characters and then storyboarding/ flash animatic/ + designs of incidental characters and environments, + painting of master bgs).. An exhausting scheduling but a great experiment and validation: It has always been our belief that sincere, hardworking freshers can beat the disadvantage of not having field experience with proper mentoring. Our young team (mostly from Symbiosis, Pune) along with a handful of people of varying exposure to cartoon animation made up with their energy and commitment what they may have lacked initially in terms of experience. Kudos to Rohan, Shaunak, Anshita, Mitali who were eventually even supervising artists with up to 15 years experience!! Very proud of them all!
The project was wrapped up to the satisfaction of all in March 2013.. fingers crossed for PP's season 2..*

Call of the Divine!
The other major highlight of the year was beginning a new feature film!! Also in collaboration with Toonz, this time a co-production for a 90 minute venture that might become a big event in the coming year if all goes well. SWAMI AYYAPPAN, the boy-God revered by millions has never converted into an animation project ( people have tried). This first time telling of his exploits is co-directed by yours truly with the talented Mahesh Vettiyar of Toonz who has written the script. Being made in Malayalam ( yes, right!) this feature id designed and directed (and also now animated) in Animagic. Unlike Tripura, where the animation was outsourced to Malaysia, this film has been farmed out to several Indian studios who are all contributing little segments. While this kind of collaboration has been carried out by some before, this time is unique in many ways that will merit a separate post. Its looking good so far and we endeavor to make it worth the average Ayyappan- follower's time and the public's money. Its a lot of work (punishing to say the least, but it echoes the principle behind the pilgrimage to Sabarimala- a long and arduous journey to truth and purification) May we succeed.*

Notable also for more new entrants into Animagic- Mitra, part of the fresher group ( possibly the youngest in the studio) already has the entire animatic edit of an animation feature film to her credit.. Nilesh who has over the years accumulated much experience in the art of background painting but not allowed himself to be jaded or commercialized  His inspiration is Kazuo Oga (and I feel his work in Ayyappan is as sincere as Oga's for Ghibli) if he keeps up - Animation background art in India (as opposed to matte painting) will flourish and inspire the next gen!

The project!
Also finally a major (secret) collaboration with Ram Madhwani was also initiated and will soon be completed as well. A graphic novel/ live-action pre-production* project this also has an Indian root and very spiritual center which both Ram and I have had to search for within ourselves as well. Ram has been hard at that. I just about manage to draw.
All exciting stuff tho, needing growth by handfuls and never a complacent run. Typical Animagic project! Only made possible by vigilant support from Prajakta and G.
Executive style!
Throughout this busy year, we have had the good luck to have found our very first Production supervisor and all round manager- Shital who did yeoman work in harnessing the young talents to their deadlines- without losing integrity. For the former and especially the more important latter part we are grateful to her. She is the first executive management that Animagic has had and as such, a wonderful omen of things to come.

The ad work included small bits for Voltas all weather ACs and I-pill redux in the form of I-SURE, a corporate film for Videocon, several pre-production & storyboard projects like the HIPPO -One World tvc, Maruti, GreenLam laminates-Soundarya Premi etc.*

Events & lectures!
Apart from these the projects some happy incidents included accolades from the Industry as 'Lionheart leaders of Independent animation for both G(ayatri) and yours humbly, sponsored by ARENA, an invitation to speak at the MAAC event in Goa with both students and mentors about animation, character design and the need for artists not mere technicians. Thanks to the door-drishti of Sanjiv Waeerkar & his team which wanted the students to aim higher. A very urgent need indeed and not just for MAAC students.*
A session at the Ecole-Inuit design labs, organised by Jamila Varawala turned into a discussion on 'why we do what we do' : a meditation on the sources of our inspiration and the quest for sincerity in art.

Ohayo gozaimasu Japan !
Last but not the least was a unexpected visit to Japan organised by AOTS, which brought together 19 animation artists and professionals for a 9 day visit to the land of the rising sun and Anime!! With guest lecturers ranging from long time (now retired) director of Doraemon, the legendary Shibayama sensei to the multi award winning Koji Yamamura (for 'mount head') to the head of the Japan Animation Association, an enlightening time was had by all. Topped with a visit to the Sensoji shrine, Kamakura (the birthplace of the samurai), the awesome Fujiko. F. Fujio (Doraemon) museum and the enchanting Akihabara district with its comic and toy shops which saw all of us become crazy kids again!!*
The canine team saw new addition in the form of OMie, Teddy n Noddy..* Many canine adventures peppered our lives throughout the year.. but puppy love grew in leaps n bounds! Shambho & Damroo are doing very well too..

*Each of these events deserves a separate post to detail the experiences and learning... every life event has been informing the next and enriching it... Today is the first day I have taken an off to sit down and recap life...I hope that I will be able to note the unique gifts of every step before they merge into subconscious ocean of learnings.

For now A very happy birthday to Animagic! congrats to Animagicians for being splendid and a dream for the year ahead!

Thanks for the patience and till the next time (soon... :))

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

MahaShivaratri 2012

Om Namah Shivay!!

Just back from the 2nd annual Comic Con in Delhi... very exhausted, but very excited too. The response to the preview pages of the TRIPURA graphic novel was tremendous! Thanks to our friend Lalit in New Delhi we were able to publish somethings just in time for the comic con.. 
This poster above sold a lot! Someone brought to my notice it was just as well because it was timely for MahaShivaratri (the great night of Shiva!! read more about this here & here)! Once the penny dropped, it became even more exciting to see the people that would be drawn to the poster and want to buy it... These were people who didnt need any selling (not that I can get myself to... sheesh!!!..erase, erase..negative affirmation!) but their eyes would twinkle in awe and admiration for the Great God
Some were struck by the inner strength of the scene, some by the serenity, some by the fact that it was how they saw HIM in their head. Some felt the black'n' white nature of the image was correct for the mood. those who noticed the awestruck Indra looking up understood the moment of majesty... some asked for the artist... soon it came to pass that the artist signed all the posters with a reminder and wish of the "love & Grace" for all who bought it!
  Bam Bam Bhole!!
Jai Bholenath!